Yes, I realize it is probably the corporation everyone in this country loves to hate, but it is so easy to hate Wal-Mart. I am not a huge Wal-Mart basher and do shop there occasionally, although it seems like every time I do shop there it is a negative experience.
Anyway, I find their now slogan “Save Money, Live Better” to be a bit ironic based on this story that came out on SavingAdvice.com. The word is that Wal-Mart will now limit customers to 10 manufacturer coupons per order. While this likely only affects a small portion of their customers, this is pretty offensive to the smart consumer that is trying to “Save Money” and “Live Better”. Manufacturer coupons are a great way to save money. Although I don’t do coupons nearly as much as I used to, I will still cut out coupons for items I know we will use. As a casual coupon user it isn’t uncommon for me to have 20 or even 25 coupons for my trip to the grocery store. And now Wal-Mart is going to tell me that I can’t use all of my valid manufacturer coupons in their stores? Screw you, Wal-Mart!
I don’t quite understand the logic behind this move for a company that claims it is providing a better standard of living for millions of Americans through its lower prices. Any retailer accepting a manufacturer coupon is reimbursed for the full value of the coupons redeemed, plus a small handling charge for each. The only added expenses to the retailer are having to gather the coupons and submit them to the coupon clearinghouses and the added time for the cashiers to scan the coupons presented. It isn’t like Wal-Mart is paying for the coupon discount themselves. The only plausible theories I can come up with are that it is an effort to speed up their notoriously slow check-out lines (you know, the three out of 30 that are actually open) or that they have figured out that either because of poor training or poor intellectual ability their cashiers aren’t able to figure out what to do with the coupons.
This is just the latest anti-consumer action by Wal-Mart. I remember being offended a few years ago when they ran ads talking about how customers could save money with having to clip coupons (God forbid!), as if those of us who did were the modern-day equivalent of lepers or something. And don’t get me started about their poor customer service (store-level or when contacting corporate) or their price matching non-policy (“We’ll honor any competitor’s advertised price”, unless that competitor is more than 1500 yards away from our store, requires the use of a free frequent shopper card, or actually has a price cheaper than ours). And of course for the few coupons you are allowed to redeem be ready for a fight since it seems like most of their cashiers don’t quite understanding that a coupon can be valid for an item described with words and not included in the pretty picture on the coupon.
As a country we have been brainwashed into thinking that Wal-Mart is always cheaper on everything, but if you compare prices to Target or your local grocery store you may be surprised at just how small a difference in price there really is. Take into account the poor customer service, the time it takes to get through the checkout line, and the anti-consumer policies, and you may just find it is costing you more to shop at Wal-Mart than you actually save.